V-Log: Dwelling On How To Save The Newspaper Industry With A Disruptive App

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some general thoughts.

Why #Novels Are Often Conservative When It Comes To Depicting Technology

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have a great concept for a novel I might write at some point after the novel I’m writing now is completed and (hopefully) published that deals extensively with VR & AR. It’s interesting that even though I know AR & VR are hurtling towards us rapidly, with the current novel I’m writing I just don’t feel very comfortable talking about that.

You generally want a novel to be as timeless as possible, and so it doesn’t make much sense — unless the novel is set in the far, far future — to use some fantastical possible technological advancement as a plot device. But maybe I might eventually. Generally, however, the more conservative you are in a novel when it comes to technology, the better.

I remember when the Internet was exploding in popularity 20 years ago looking at novels that didn’t even mention its existence and growing frustrated. I think a lot of that had to do with the lag time between conception and publishing of a novel as much as anything else.


It’s Up To Silicon Valley To Fix The Trump Mess

by Shelton Bumgarner

Donald Trump used his strangely adept ability at using Twitter to become, of all things, President of the United States. So, while I’ve suggested in the past that maybe a Constitutional Amendment might fix this issue, that is fanciful and a much more realistic fix would come from Silicon Valley.

It’s highly unlikely they will do anything because, well, they’re too interested in VR and AR at this point to be bothered with saving the American Republic with a new social media platform. But if you did manage to get them to be interested in doing just that, what might we suggest?

I have talked at great length about what a new social media platform might have in it and if you really want to understand the concept, I suggest you go to my Instagram account. But in general, it seems as though if there was a “Twitter killer” that fixed some of the major problems of that service that managed to produce Trump in the first place, then maybe we won’t have to endure another loony celebrity becoming president.

It seems as though if you were fixing Twitter with a new service you would make Verified Accounts have not only more power but more responsibility in some way. Make them feel like stakeholders in some way. Additionally, I feel giving people not just 140 characters but essentially a whole webpage to make their case might improve the situation dramatically.

Lastly, if you were to hook all this up to threaded discussions like you once had with Usenet, then something pretty cool would happen.

But I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn, so this is just me doing a little venting out into the void. Meh.

The Fire Next Time: How To Prevent The Russians From Hacking The Next Election

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have already proposed some fanciful Constitutional fixes when it comes to how to prevent a foreign power, namely the Russians, from hacking into our election system. But is there any more practical manner to do that? One issue is that our system is so open that it’s difficult to come up with any fix that wouldn’t cause more harm than good.

In other words, just like building a wall is applying a sledge hammer to a social issue unnecessarily, so, too, the most obvious way to fix the issue of the Russians hacking into our election system: significant increase in regulation of the Internet would too easily be abused or other purposes. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how it probably wouldn’t stand up to Constitutional scrutiny.

So, it seems like we’re fucked.

In desperation, if there was real political willpower to fix this problem, we might get the government to work in tandem with Twitter to lightly regulate bots and trolls from, say, six months out from election day. Something whereby we at least made it more difficult for Russian bots to fuck with people’s minds. But given that the Republicans are so completely Vichy when it comes to Donald Trump and the Russians, there simply is no willpower to do anything at all.

I honestly can’t think of any scenario where the issue of how to prevent Russians from hacking into our election cycle will be fixed anytime soon for any reason. It’s only going to get worse. It seems as though for the foreseeable future something we take for granted — free and fair elections — are, in fact, in danger and for once the problem isn’t even self-inflicted.

It’s all deep. It’s all very deep.

How To Kill Twitter & Disrupt The Newspaper Business While Saving The Republic

by Shelton Bumgarner

Trumplandia is very much a product of social media and more specifically Twitter. The case could be made that the combination of Russian hacking, Trump campaign collusion along with Twitter and FOX News made the crucial difference when it came to the outcome of the election.

In other words, the system failed and now we have a celebrity Twitter troll with a penchant for the Russians as president.

So, after that sinks in, let’s think about what the problems with Twitter are and how to fix them.

It seems as though there are two major problems with Twitter: how easy it is to peddle fake news and how the fact that you only have 140 characters make it difficult to carry on an intelligent conversation. As I have articulated at great length on Instagram, I have a pretty clear vision of how to fix those two problems while adding any number of features that no one asked for.

The crux of my vision is verified accounts would have more power than the average users. People with verified accounts could create things I call Groups. Within Groups would be Discussions would be threaded discussions that allowed for more cogent debate than currently found on Twitter or even Reddit or Facebook. As I have repeatedly said, what I want is to bring back the core concepts of Usenet in such a way that some of the features that we lost over the years would be brought back.

We really need to address the issue of fake news and I think giving verified account holders some sense that they were stake holders would cause them to produce more content that would hopefully flood the zone and crowd out fake news. This, of course, doesn’t address that Right Wing Nut Jobs believe what they want to believe and their anger at the status quo is so surreal in nature that I may be fooling myself.

Now, imagine that a newspaper company like Tronc was to create this Twitter Killer. I am of the opinion that the only way to disrupt the newspaper business is from within, so it’s possible that Tronc could fund a startup and that startup would turn around and disrupt the newspaper business by re-imagining what a newspaper was from the ground up.

In my vision of things, a newspaper company like Tronc would detach its writers from the print product, make them verified account holders in a new social media platform and not only save the newspaper business but the Republic as well.

Something needs to be done, is all I’m saying. We’re in dire straights right now and only by doing something dramatic can we dig ourselves out of this hole we find ourselves in. If we don’t figure out how to prevent the Russians from hacking our elections system, they are going to do it again.